This is the year no one is voting for President. Instead, everyone seems to be voting against someone so that she or he does not become President. I ask my friends on both sides of the aisle to talk me into voting for their candidate. So far, all I hear in response are the multiple transgressions of the opposition. When asked about Donald Trump’s qualifications and plans, I hear about Bill Clinton’s licentiousness and Hillary Clinton’s email server. When I ask about Hillary Clinton’s qualifications and plans, I hear about Donald Trump’s behavior toward women.
No one is voting for President. We’ve become a nation of “vote againsts.” Our news media sell pain, suffering, and fear instead of a simple report of facts. Online anonymity reveals humanity as much more angry and cruel than we imagined it was before social media. Does media reveal us or shape us? I don’t know, but I suspect our brains are conditioning themselves toward a rough decade.
And what on earth does all this negativity tell us about the future of the ethical workplace? Most of us spend a third of our lives at work. If we include the hours spent thinking about work, that statistic might approach half. Half our lives spent in a negative, graceless environment will certainly course our brains toward thinking against instead of for a thing.
It is, I believe, the sheer volume of time that so many of us spend in a negative work environment that is turning America from a nation of can-do achievers into dour haters. Our candidates are not making us want to work, but they do complain a lot.
Seventy percent of Americans deeply dislike their work environment. If the workplace culture values territorial clutching over transparent collaboration, we become negative. If work rewards favoritism over fairness, we become a little more negative. If relationships are merely scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours transactions instead of empathetic support (the real stuff of lasting relationships), we tilt a bit more toward negativity. Profit over people? Sales above helping customers succeed? The needle moves again in the wrong direction.
Eventually, we become tired, grouchy, against. What would it take to make us for?
If we realize that productivity increases when the workplace is dignified, that might do it. Replace fear of failure with leaning toward a shared goal. Replace management by yelling with leadership through development. Replace hire a warm body with scientifically sound system that finds people who fit a desired culture. Replace scattered overlapping seat-of-the-pants objectives with systems that align priorities so everyone can row the boat in synch. And dear God, please help us replace soulless corporate policies with spiritually intelligent values.
Our systems are creating negative work cultures that shuttle us down a dark, snake-infested path. No wonder our growth sails hang slack. Can we change course, please?